Improve your sermon prep with our brand new study tools! Learn all about them here.
Preaching Articles

A 31-year-old pastor in Mount Dora, Fla., recently set the record for the longest sermon ever preached.

Pastor Zach Zehnder of Cross Church began his quest on Fri., Nov. 7, and by Sunday had preached for 53 hours and 18 minutes. I have to assume he has no deacons at Cross Church, or they would have pulled the plug after an hour.

During the two-and-a-half day homiletical marathon, Zehnder preached through 45 of his own sermons and displayed more than 600 PowerPoint slides as he moved from Genesis to Revelation, highlighting the theme of divine faithfulness. Personally, I'd say having a church put up with a 53-hour message is a sparkling example of congregational faithfulness.

According to the Broward New Times, "To comply with Guinness World Record rules, Zehnder had to speak before a minimum of 10 people the entire time, and there had to be two independent witnesses to sign off on its validity and monitor his break times. To ensure these rules were met, church members formed groups to help out and rotated shifts, moving in and out in groups of 10. Some spectators stayed nearly as long as Pastor Zehnder. Toward the end of the event, hundreds of community members came to see him complete his speech marathon."

The sermonic display was done as a fund-raising event to raise money for a local recovery ministry. (In my past churches, I suspect the folks would have given money to have me preach shorter, not longer.) In addition to whatever spiritual benefit may have come from the lengthy message, the record-breaking sermon raised more than $100,000 for the local charity and drew national news attention. This got me thinking: What other record-breaking attempts could be made by preachers?

The most fried chicken consumed at a church supper.

The most irrelevant stories packed into a single sermon.

The most "And finally" references included in a message before actually stopping.

The most deacons packed into a church courtyard to catch a last-minute smoke before the service begins.

The longest sermon introduction before actually beginning the body of the message.

The most points packed into a single sermon outline. (The record I've heard so far is 27. Trust me, you're just as happy not having heard it yourself.)

So get ready, Guinness Book of World Records people. We preachers are just getting started.

SermonCentral is the world's leader in sermon resources and research. We are dedicated to equipping pastors worldwide for excellence in preaching.

Browse All

Related Preaching Articles

Talk about it...

Gerald Graham

commented on Jan 21, 2015

Wow I find this to be one of the most cynical and unnecessary articles ever. I don't personally preach as you've described but will not criticize those who need help in their preaching in this manner. This is not helpful.

Doug Knox

commented on Jan 21, 2015

Well, at least there was SOME redeeming value to the marathon sermon. By the time I read through the suggestions for further records I had to chuckle out loud. We have to be able to laugh at ourselves.

Ptr Dewi

commented on Jan 22, 2015

And what is the point of this article?

Julio Gonzalez

commented on Jan 22, 2015

Come on guys, you sound SUPER SPIRITUAL. I guess you never joke during your sermons. I don't think is a bad article and it does teach us something, how sometimes money (which is the reason why he did it) becomes more important than the message. Anyhow I am sure that in spite of all that the Lord used the Word as He always does. We may act stupid and do stupid things, but God is sovereign and faithful

Rev. David Collins

commented on Jan 24, 2015

WOW! I can't imagine preaching for that long. I have been preaching for 41yrs.

Lawrence Webb

commented on Jun 10, 2015

After my most recent sermon, a lady said, "I enjoyed your sermon." Then she quickly corrected herself and said, "I know I'm not supposed to enjoy a sermon. I'm supposed to apply it." I laughed and said, "There's nothing wrong with enjoying a sermon as long as that's not the end of what you do with it." That also should not be the preacher's main intention, to entertain. This man's marathon had to have an element of entertainment, of spectacle: How long will he go? When will he eat? When will he manage elimination? Why is he doing this? etc. etc. When you think about it, such a performance is strange, weird, and laughable.

Join the discussion